Husband can’t deny maintenance to wife merely because she is living a modern life: Madhya Pradesh High Court

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Wife leading a modern lifestyle is not wrong and cannot be ground to deny maintenance to her, the Madhya Pradesh High Court recently held.

Justice GS Ahluwalia opined that the Court cannot hold a wife to be wrong merely because wife’s modern life was “immoral” in the eyes of her husband.

“Leading a modern life without committing an offence cannot be criticized at all. Unless and until it is held that wife is residing separately without any reasonable reason, she cannot be denied maintenance,” the Court observed.

It, therefore, rejected a petition filed by a man who wanted the Court to quash the order directing him to pay ₹5,000 monthly maintenance to his wife.

Justice Gurpal Singh Ahluwalia
The Court added that except for submitting that his wife was in the “habit of living a modern life” which was not acceptable to him, nothing else had been pointed out to show that she was residing separately without any reasonable reason.

“If there are differences between the applicant (husband) and his wife on this issue, then this Court can only say that so long as respondent No.1 is not indulged in criminal activity, she is free to live her life as per own wishes whether orthodox or modern,” the Court said.

In the present case, the husband (36) had challenged the order passed by a Court in Satna district for grant of maintenance to his wife (26). The Satna court also had ordered the man to also pay maintenance of ₹3,000 to his toddler son.

Challenging the order, the counsel representing the husband submitted that while he belonged to a very orthodox family, his wife was a “very modern girl”. Her Facebook posts were cited as evidence to back the submission.

The Court was told that while the man had no objection to pay the maintenance for his son, the amount awarded to the wife may be quashed in view of her lifestyle.

However, the Court questioned the argument and asked whether it can bypass the law on the basis of morality. It also asked whether the wife’s modern life can be said to be an immoral act on her part.

In response, the counsel representing the husband submitted that law cannot exist in isolation of morality. He submitted that morality must be given a preference.

Disagreeing with the submissions, the Court said even otherwise, the trial court had awarded only an amount of ₹5,000 which cannot be considered to be on the higher side.

“In the light of price index, cost of living as well as cost of goods required for daily needs, this Court is of considered opinion that by no stretch of imagination, it can be said that the maintenance amount of Rs.5,000/- per month is on higher side,” Justice Ahluwalia reasoned.

The Court, therefore, dismissed the husband’s petition but clarified that the present order would not come in the way of his wife and child in case they file a separate application for enhancement of maintenance amount.

Advocate Paritosh Trivedi represented the petitioner.

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